File Organization

Back when I was a full time employee at Vineyard Columbus, we had an absolute ton of ministries and departments that all spawned their own plethora of projects, events, and promotions. We had to find a way to organize it all so that anyone could walk in and make some sense of it. This became even more important when we moved to shared storage.

We realized a few things:

  1. Most events repeated every year or every other year
  2. We needed a way to easily find files for weekend services and other events
  3. There were a few things that we produced that didn’t cleanly fit under a single ministry. For instance: Sermon Series, Bulletin, church wide branding, and stock.
  4. We needed all of this to live on shared storage so everyone can access anything at any time.

We bought a NAS, and moved everything there. And we came up with the following structure:

At the top level, we have folders for each top level ministry.

Ministry -> Event or Promo -> Year

Inside each year folder, we have to more folders for that particular project.

-> 11×17
-> Bulletin
-> Concept
-> -> Approvals
-> Postcard
-> Slides
-> Social Media
-> Whatever other delivery format needed

-> Audio
-> -> Field
-> -> Mixes
-> -> Music
-> -> SFX
-> Misc (for scripts etc.)
-> Exports
-> -> Approvals
-> -> Final
-> -> MGFX
-> Media
-> -> Footage
-> -> -> Card 1
-> -> -> Card 2
-> -> Illustrator
-> -> Photoshop
-> -> Stills
-> Project
-> -> Year Event Title.prproj
-> -> Year Event Title.aep

-> RAW
-> Edited

We handled delivering files from our Communications team to our Media Arts (live events) team using a folder called “•Dropbox” (not a dropbox account folder, just named “Dropbox”). The bullet pulls it to the top of the folder list. We have a few folders there to exchange stuff:

-> AAFs to be mixed (from video editors to audio engineer)
-> Finished audio mixes (from audio engineer to video editors)
-> DVD
-> ProRes
-> Slides

Final deliverables for weekend stuff is titled “YYYY.MM.DD Event Name” with the appropriate file extension, copied to the •Dropbox folder, and an email sent notifying the other team.

Stuff that isn’t for a particular ministry gets treated as a separate ministry. For example:

Sermon Series
-> Year
-> -> Sermon Series Name
-> -> -> Graphics
-> -> -> Video

-> Year
-> -> Month

-> Video
-> Stills
-> Event Photography
-> -> Year Event Name

All these folder structures exist as Post Haste templates with appropriate project document templates. If I were to go back I might change a few things, but this system is (mostly) still in use today, nearly 10 years later.

Hope that’s helpful. You can grab a sample of our folder structure right here.

My office this morning. #VCIgnite18 @VineyardColumbus

There are an endless number of ways to manage your life and support your creative output; the important thing is to find one and stick with it.

The Client Journey

This is Part 5 of an ongoing series of an indeterminate length about starting a new production company. I don’t really have a pre-planned structure for this (although that might not be a bad idea). Catch up by reading Part 1, 2, 3, & 4.

Last time we talked about the purpose of a website: clarify what you do for your potential clients and get them to act. Now let’s talk about what to do once they do act. We’ll call this the “Client Journey,” and our’s goes something like this:

  • We have a short survey to get an idea of what our client wants to accomplish.

  • We schedule a 20 minute call to make a connection and have an initial conversation about the project.

  • We put together a proposal for how we would approach the project, and send it along with a contract and an invoice for deposit.

  • After we receive a deposit, we schedule our shoot dates.

  • Ten days out from the shoot date, we send an email to touch base to make sure everything is arranged.

  • Three days out we send an email with specific information about what the shoot day(s) will look like.

  • The day before the shoot we send one last email reminder/confirmation.

  • We head into production.

  • We wrap up production and send our second invoice.

  • Once that invoice is paid, we head into post-production.

  • We send weekly project status emails every Monday.

  • Once we have final approvals, we send our final invoice.

  • When we receive payment we deliver final files.

  • One week later, we check in to see if there are any issues they need help with.

  • One week later, we send a post-project survey.

  • Ten days later, we ask permission to use quotes from their survey and ask for two referrals.

  • Every three months, we send an email to see if they need help with another project.

That’s the overview of our Client Journey. Our goal with this process is to give our clients a consistent experience, and perhaps more importantly, give us a consistent system for running projects. We don’t have to think about what we need to do next because we’ve already made that decision. It saves us from ourselves. It allows us to free up our time and attention on the hard stuff: story, creative direction personal connection.

I hope this helps you create your own process for your clients.

But one of the amazing things about documentary is that you can remake it every time you make one. There is no rule about how a documentary film has to be made.

Errol Morris


Having a really good understanding of history, literature, psychology, sciences – is very, very important to actually being able to make movies.

George Lucas


People have forgotten how to tell a story. Stories don’t have a middle or an end any more. They usually have a beginning that never stops beginning.

Steven Spielberg



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